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Old 03-10-13, 02:06 AM   #1
3speed
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Will A Road Frame Build Up To Relaxed Handling Cruiser?

I finally found a small frame that should fit my girlfriend and I think she'd like it once I outlined the lugs in her favorite color and made it "cute". It's a Fuji with a horizontal TT and a derailer hanger, so I'd assume it has road frame geometry, but it's not high end, so probably not too aggressive. Will this likely be twitchy if I put some cruiser bars on it for her, or have decent, fairly relaxed handling in an upright position with big cruiser bars and as fat of tires as I can fit?
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Old 03-10-13, 03:59 AM   #2
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Pretty much depends on the geometry. Having a derailleur hanger doesn't mean that the bike will have aggressive, twitchy handling. It's likely to be a sport/touring frame with something around 73/73 degrees, seat tube/head tube. Measure the chainstays, that will give a clue, longer chainstays are generally found on bikes with more relaxed geometry.
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Old 03-10-13, 04:06 AM   #3
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When I got into bikes a few years ago, mrs non-fixie went out and bought an omafiets to go riding with me. A great bike for running errands and some commuting but it weighs 20 kgs and handles like a truck.

Since then I've built quite a few bikes for mrs non-fixie, all based on road frames and she didn't care for most of them, but twitchyness was never mentioned as an issue. Most comments were about riding position.

I finally achieved success with this setup:

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Old 03-10-13, 05:58 AM   #4
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I'll have to breakout the angleometer thingie but I am pretty sure my Hetchins is rather standard 'road' geometry. I built it as upright lightweight cruiser and it doesn't seem twitchy to me at all. However I am likely to be a much more experienced rider than your GF so that may make a difference.

I think the stem reach may have more to do with feeling twitchy than geometry. If the bike was designed to ideally have.... say a 100mm stem for handling and you put a 60mm stem and a North Road type bar that could really change the handling.



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Old 03-10-13, 10:44 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input. I suppose I'll just have to get it and see what happens.

Loving the Hetchins, BG. And of course the proper beer displayed along with it.
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Old 03-10-13, 11:05 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Paramount1973 View Post
Pretty much depends on the geometry. Having a derailleur hanger doesn't mean that the bike will have aggressive, twitchy handling. It's likely to be a sport/touring frame with something around 73/73 degrees, seat tube/head tube. Measure the chainstays, that will give a clue, longer chainstays are generally found on bikes with more relaxed geometry.
If it is a very small frame, probably not 73/73. Most name brands to keep toe clip overlap in check and still have a respectable top tube length went steeper on the seat tube and slacker on the head tube.
If it is a 50 cm frame or close with 700c wheels and the distance from the bottom bracket center to front axle center is 58.5 cm or longer, then it has a slack head angle or long effective top tube (top tube length forward of the BB center)
There are a number of ways to solve the small frame 700c wheel equation.
Production bikes will be toe clip overlap safe, which leads to compromises.
A slack head angle with generous rake (often the pairing) will create a bike that is not "nimble". Some say they steer like a truck.
I personally think that a traditional level top tube frame with sizing to fit those of 5 feet tall or a bit more should be on 650 wheels.
Very few did this in the past.
For a traditional shaped frame to "feel" right with 700c wheels there will be overlap. A compromise, not a killer in my book but you have to adapt to it.

I had a criterium bike long ago with serious toe clip overlap, it had a 37.125" wheelbase. Zoom Zoom.

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Old 03-10-13, 11:55 AM   #7
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Well, the frame is mine now, so I'll go ahead and post the link since the seller didn't take it down yet. Looks like it's just short enough for my girlfriend, so hopefully the ride quality will be to her liking once it's built up. If not I can easily sell it again. Tiny frames go like free $100 bills in Madison.

http://madison.craigslist.org/bik/3670892444.html

Any idea what model this could be or what size seat tube it's likely to take? I'm thinking it's probably a 27" wheeled bike. My plan is to put as fat of 700c wheels as I can on it to give her a smoother ride and not have her worry about being on "really skinny" tires.
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Old 03-10-13, 12:03 PM   #8
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I think the stem reach may have more to do with feeling twitchy than geometry.have.... say a 100mm stem for handling and you put a 60mm stem and a North Road type bar that could really change the handling.
Yes... that would probably tame the steering on an old Fuji road bike. But if you left the road bars and added a longer stem, that would tend to make the ride more relaxed.

PS... gorgeous frame that Hetchins... it must attract some attention when you're riding it.
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Old 03-10-13, 12:17 PM   #9
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So I need to find a long stem(9-10cm), even though the bars will then sweep back past the stem?
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Old 03-10-13, 12:46 PM   #10
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I don't think that will ever be a cruiser bike. It'll build into a nice townie or quasi-roadster bike, but not a cruiser...

Cruiser bicycle:

Urban cruising by БРАТСТВО, on Flickr

Townie/roadster bicycle:

Townie by (cobrabyte), on Flickr
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Old 03-10-13, 06:49 PM   #11
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So I need to find a long stem(9-10cm), even though the bars will then sweep back past the stem?
Yes, a much longer stem is advisable here.

Remember, that with respect to the stem length, the last word on how this bike will handle lies in where the grips are in relation to the steering axis, and that having the grips near to or behind the steering axis will make for a very weird steering response on a road frameset.

As for the mid-lower level Fujis, I find these have a relaxed steering geometry. Even with this small frame, and likely raked-out head tube angle, the fork will have been "rake-adjusted" to match the frame for, in this case, a stable road geometry, which is all for the better.

But again, it's the grip placement you should compare to the original, stable setup, and which should be foremost consideration in your search for an appropriate bar and stem.
This bike will never be a cruiser in the sense of having the saddle far behind the bottom bracket, and it's silly and difficult to go for that sort of positioning with this one.
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Old 03-10-13, 07:15 PM   #12
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So I need to find a long stem(9-10cm), even though the bars will then sweep back past the stem?
I'd try the North Road bars on your current stem. It just might be sufficient.

Remember that a longer stem is going to move the ends of the bars that much forward... and this might not be what you are looking for.
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Old 03-11-13, 02:23 AM   #13
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Thanks for the explaination dddd. That definitely helps with my bar/stem choice. I guess I'll be looking for a 9-10cm stem with a lot of height, and a bar that won't sweep too far back and go past the steering axis. One question about that - The front of the grips on my cruiser(legit Cruiser) are in line with the steering tube, with the ends of them being ~4" to the rear of the steering tube. Would I want to go more forward for her bike because of the geometry, or would that likely handle/steer OK on this Fuji frame?

Maybe cruiser isn't the correct term for what I'm going for with her bike. I guess townie might be more appropriate. For example, she liked the handling of the Sears Free Spirit 3-speed I had for a little while(once she was on it and moving), but it was definitely too big for her and I think it probably weighed 35-40lbs, so it wasn't realistic for her to ride that. That's the kind of thing I'm going for with this bike if I can. My major focuses are "cute" and comfortable/relaxed to ride. I already have decent aluminum components and a leather spring seat, so I just need to find the right stem/bar combo.
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Old 03-11-13, 07:18 PM   #14
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...One question about that - The front of the grips on my cruiser(legit Cruiser) are in line with the steering tube, with the ends of them being ~4" to the rear of the steering tube. Would I want to go more forward for her bike because of the geometry, or would that likely handle/steer OK on this Fuji frame?...

I would be ready to make adjustments during an initial test-ride. Every frame and rider is different.

You could do a lot worse than to sort of match the grip positioning of the upper part of the stock handlebar, where the safety levers might be.
That would be a good start if the style of bar you want can be positioned that way. A lot of old French bikes had a sort of riser bar that was often sub'd in for a road bar. These had minimal pull-back, almost like a shortened version of today's mtb riser bars, and usually handled fine with the original, modest-length stem.
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Old 03-11-13, 10:13 PM   #15
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Sounds good. Thanks again.
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